THE NUGGETS ARE DEEP
Most of us knew this before the season, but the Denver Nuggets have arguably the most well-rounded team in the NBA.
Al Harrington, Andre Miller and Rudy Fernandez are among some of the top reserves in the League and players like Kosta Koufos, Corey Brewer and Kenneth Faried aren’t in the normal rotation, but each have shown that they are as good, or even better, than the players ahead of them.
In three games last week, Koufos averaged 8.7 points and 7.3 rebounds as he was filling in for Nene. Koufos also hit 11 of 14 shots and had four blocks.
Brewer brings three things to the game, his energy, speed and defense. Brewer kept the Nuggets in Saturday’s game against San Antonio, scoring 11 points and grabbing five rebounds as Denver closed out the first half on a 22-9 run to get within seven points at halftime.
He has nine steals in only six games and many of them lead to fastbreak baskets going the other way.
Faried has only played in two games, but he has shown he can be a valuable asset for years to come. He plays above the rim, tough defense and is great in the open floor. There isn’t a lot of minutes with the Nuggets frontcourt this season, but it wouldn’t be out of the question that he starts stealing minutes from Chris Andersen in the future.
GALLO CAN BALL
It took a blown layup to wake up the Italian baller, but Danilo Gallinari has been on a tear over the previous five games.
Since that blown basket, Gallinari has averaged 20.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists. He also has shot .522 percent from the field and .806 percent from the free throw line.
Gallinari, who is only shooting .244 from behind the arc, has hit 6 of his last 13 treys which hopefully will pull him out of his shooting slump.
During the most recent run, Gallinari has scored 20 or more points in four games and went for 31 in a losing effort to the Spurs. The only game he didn’t score double-digits in was 27-point victory over the Sacramento Kings in which Gallinari didn’t see the floor for the last 15 minutes.
One thing that has been overlooked with Gallinari this season has been his play on defense, he is averaging nearly 2 steals a game and has had to defend Kobe Bryant, Stephen Jackson and even Tyreke Evans.
NUGGETS WIN WITH THEIR DEFENSE
In the post-Carmelo Anthony days, the Nuggets have developed a new identity. It is a running team that depends on its defense. The Nuggets have only allowed three teams to score more than 100 points this season, two of which were losses. They lost 111-102 on the road in Portland and 121-117 in San Antonio. Before the loss to the Spurs the Nuggets held their previous three opponents to under 90 points.
The Nuggets have done a good job of forcing turnovers this season (18.4, which is second in the NBA). On the individual level, Denver has two players in the top 10 in steals. Ty Lawson is fourth with two steals a game, while Gallinari is tied for seventh with 1.9 steal a game. Al Harrington also has 13 steals and Brewer has nine.
Denver is also second to only the Miami Heat in scoring. The Nuggets have also made it a point to getting to the charity stripe, they are third in the League in free throw attempts.
The only areas where the Nuggets are struggling right now is 3-point shooting and rebounding. Denver is in the bottom five in shooting the trey (.28 percent) and they have the second worst average on the offensive glass (8.4).
BIRDMAN HAS LOST HIS TOUCH
Over the past three seasons, Andersen has had an important role off the bench for the Denver Nuggets. But this season the fan favorite is slowing getting phased out.
He is ninth on the team in minutes and has played 10 or more minutes in only five games. He has only blocked six shots (three coming in one game) and if you take out his eight-point effort against the Lakers and 10 points in the Nuggets blowout win over the Kings, Andersen has really struggled.
In the other seven games, he has hit only 5 of 14 baskets and is averaging 2.4 points and 2.9 rebounds.
George Karl still believes Andersen has the tools and talent to make an impact in a game, but if Birdman continues to falter he may find his minutes going to younger and maybe even better players like Koufos and Faried.
DUNK OF THE YEAR
Faried has only played 19 minutes this season, but that is all he needed to find himself in the running for best dunk of the year.
A nifty over the head pass by Rudy Fernandez set up Faried for the electrifying dunk. And the best part about the dunk was it was Faried’s first points of his career.
Topics: Al Harrington, Andre Miller, Birdman, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Andersen, Corey Brewer, Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets, George Karl, Kenneth Faried, Kobe Bryant, Kosta Koufos, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Nene, Sacramento Kings, Ty Lawson